Happy Homeschool Hygge Practices to Offset the Winter Blues

Homeschool hygge: these two words go together like apple and pie, Italy and pizza, fireplace and book, beach and margarita.

Nothing like a cold day to entice us to the sofa with a few cozy blankets and our read alouds or workbooks. Light the warm, burnt orange candles, start a fire in the fireplace and turn on Spotify to a classical composer like Pelecis.

The first day of frost arrived last week. The puppy’s water froze. The chickens hesitated to leave the coop. I hesitated to walk the puppy under the almost touchable morning cloud cover. Snow flurries were forecast for the morning and the blue sky was white by lunchtime. The kids found their winter gear and were outside building a snow companion dog for our puppy. They also made a couple of snow forts and their first sledding trail.

The seasonal shifts draw us to homeschool hygge practices, just as our monthly hormonal changes do as well. Seasonal and hormonal shifts are the big yellow triangular sign that tells us to slow down and do the homeschool hygge. 

I share homeschool hygge practices for the homeschool mom (& her kids).

Homeschool hygge practices help us learn to be in the moment, harness relaxation, and release the hectic world around us.

Happy homeschool hygge practices I include:

1. Candles, lots and lots of candles because candles are just cozy. 

There is so much less light during the slump season. The days begin darker, the days are shorter. So there are so many more reasons to light a candle.

Light a candle with your morning routine: a journal, a special pen, and something inspirational to read.

Read to yourself a few affirmations, sketch the words into your journal, listen to a lovingkindness meditation when you’re done, and blow out the candle.

If the kids find you as you’re doing your morning routine, invite them to grab their morning basket of journals, pens, meditation colouring books, and art books so they can do the same until you’re done.

Read more on the science of how candles can calm.

2. Create cozy spaces to homeschool.

Cozy is the word of the season.

So if you have a wood-burning or natural gas fireplace, a wood-burning stove, or even a YouTube video of a fire blazing, include that in your morning readaloud on the sofa.

Or allow your kids to take over the family room and build a bedsheet tipi for their quiet reading space after lunch.

Nothing says cozy like a warming fire, workbooks, textbooks, pencils, and erasers in front of the fireplace.

(But the next time you wonder where all the erasers went, remember: they’re under the sofa cushions.)

Homeschool Hygge Practices for the Homeschool Family: Build a tent in the family room for readalouds or quiet crafts

3. Consider incorporating authentic, supportive community as profound homeschool hygge practices.
Be friends with yourself first.

Take yourself out to places you enjoy. Not one of my kids will volunteer to follow me into the antique or bookstore, but I’m all over that stuff. I’ll take myself on the local art walk. I’ll take myself to the Thai restaurant and order something no one else in my family likes. I am different than my family and I like being by myself.

You have birthed a community too.

Though this suggestion runs contrary to present-day advice, you have birthed, like literally birthed (or ‘heart-birthed’, adopted) your most valuable community. One day, the kids in your homeschool will likely be your friends.

Approach them now as your friends and you might miss the point of parenting and teaching them unhealthy co-dependence. Though these friendships have a different origin and progression, and you are their prime social influence, you are making your own community through your family.

Vulnerability is required.

You must risk being who you are if you want to be known. That means you have to know who you are, be able to be who you are, and let people know that person, not the shiny person, not the closed-off person, but the real person that you know is definitely you.

Familiarity breeds friendship.

Where you are regularly is where you will make friends. Like the grocery store, pet food store, the library, or extracurriculars.

Practice recognizing similarities.

We’re not looking for homogeneity (because it doesn’t exist); we’re looking for common interests, common connections, and perhaps common values.

Try to temporarily set aside your book cover judgment so you can find your commonalities. Everyone and I mean everyone, can find commonalities with others. The human experience is every human’s experience.

Find friends based on interest.

So where to start? This might sound familiar homeschool mama: start with your interests. Connect in places you would want to go if your children didn’t exist.

Try this more than once. There’s no guarantee that your closest circle of friends are fast friends the first time you met them (though that happens too). Just because you went to book club once, or a bible study, or the gym, or knitting club, and you didn’t immediately connect, isn’t to say that you won’t develop that friendship.

Don’t expect everyone you like will like you. Not everyone that likes you, you will like. (Sounds like advice we might share with our children.)

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Brene Brown

create homeschool community as one of your homeschool hygge practices

4. Read a good book with your favourite mug of tea.

Might I suggest a book?

My book! Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer.

Here’s how I hope my book, Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer, can encourage you in your homeschool life:

Homeschool Mama Self-Care helps you acknowledge your homeschool realities.

With each family comes different realities, but here are a few common ones I’ve noticed:
When putting that much effort into others, you’d better be taking care of yourself.

Take a good, hard, long look at yourself, homeschool mama: how are you taking care of yourself?

Despite the challenging and charming aspects of this homeschool lifestyle, I’m clear on why I homeschool: because living in this vast world, and discovering all it has to offer is intriguing, fascinating, and energizes me and I wouldn’t want to do life without my children, even for an abbreviated time. I want to learn about life with my family for the days we are given together.

Your homeschool benefits: the homeschool life isn’t a perfect life, and certainly not an easy life, but it is a charmed life.

Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer

5. Homeschool hygge practices should include new exercise routines.
Exercise doesn’t have to be about mastering aesthetic perfection.

My ideal exercise is in the outdoors: hiking, biking, canoeing, walking, yoga, paddle boarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Or taking a turn in the lap lanes in the local public pool to lighten up the efforts on my aging joints is part of my winter routine too.

And in the worst weather, the elliptical machine, a video, dancing with the kids, or running stairs.

Here are a few workouts I use that are available on YouTube:

Is there a perfect routine? Yes. The one that I enjoy the most.

Learn more about how to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder here.

6. Deschool your homeschool: reimagine your life as your yearly homeschool hygge practice.

If there is any other time of year when we need to change up our routines and our intentions, it’s this time of year.

We have an opportunity to clarify again why we’re doing this homeschool thing and determine whether it aligns with our values and priorities.

Certain homeschool hygge practices=align our intentions with our daily activities.
Learn more about deschooling:

7. Classic homeschool hygge practices include getting that oven hot and baking some bread.

A few years ago, I decided if I wanted to practice any homesteady skill, it was bread making. But the things that look the easiest, usually are the most difficult. (Pie crust making too.)

There’s nothing you’ll love more than a loaf of homemade bread. Oh, the comforts of carbs.

You can learn more about baking sourdough in my post here.

8. Grow a garden, or seedlings, as part of our homeschool hygge practices.

Every year, I grow seedling starts from seed, at this time of year.

Sometimes these seedlings will grow as expected, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes I’ll know why and sometimes I won’t.

It’s a sign of my own optimism that I can grow things even in the dark seasons of the year.

I’m still growing, other things are still growing, not dormant exactly, but in a slower mode of growth.

I love growing plants, I love watching something thrive under my hand, and I love growing my own food.

And this activity can be done with the kids.

close up of seedlings in little pots: gardening as part of our homeschool hygge practices

9. Play even more games.
Candy used in irregular spaces in our home can provide motivation for pretty much any game.

(Unless your dental plan has sweeping coverage, I don’t recommend using candy on a daily basis.)

Candy-inspired games for when you want to include candy:
  • Your kiddo doesn’t care for mental math games? They’ll like to play mental math with candy.
  • Have you tried Smarties word mapping? “Place a red Smarties on each verb in the paragraph. Green for nouns. Yellow for articles. Purple for prepositions.” Motivation for grammar study abounds.
  • Have you tried making marshmallow constellations? Or grape-skewered geometric shapes? Marshmallow and Twizzlers DNA strands can be the beginning conversations about amino acids and memorizing whether guanine binds with thymine or adenosine binds with the other one. Sorry, it’s been a while.

Sugar isn’t the only way to make stuff fun.

Non-candy-inspired fun & games:
  • The weather channel drive. In the last city we lived in had a weather channel in French and English, only accessible in the car. So we’d hop in the minivan and take a drive around the neighbourhood listening to the weather. (Yes, we really did). I’d brief the kids on a few French words they might hear, like zero…curiously similar to English zero, but with pizazz. “Kiddos you’ll hear the days of the week, numbers, chaud and froid.”
  • Play real-life math games. Give the kids a recent receipt for a restaurant meal, then get the kids to guess how much it might cost to make that meal at home. See who guesses the closest. How much does it cost to plan your next vacation? Budgeting for their sibling’s birthday gifts? Give them empty income tax forms to learn how to do their own taxes.
  • Play board and dice games. There are loads of dice and card games that can reinforce basic math functions and fractions too. Does anyone want to play Yahtzee? A game of Chess or Stratego for logic development? Do you want to reinforce spelling concepts or vocabulary development? Try Scrabble or Bananagrams.
  • Make an afternoon of Pinschooling. Loads of “learn to read” videos to reinforce phonics. There are beginner French videos. Science experiments were recreated. There are art projects for adults and kids.

“Play gives children a way to practice what they’re learning.” 

Mr. Rogers

close up photo of monopoly board game: homeschool hygge practices

10. Grab a new stack of books from the library.

Cause you know you need a few new books.

Homeschool mama synonym for book collector.

And while you’re there, pick up a stack that you can read too.

If you’re not already doing it, include an afternoon “quiet” time where you each head to a different sofa chair, or a different room, and enjoy the short-lived quiet that you can get.

(Assume that your “quiet time will be interrupted numerous times until your kids learn that you do indeed expect them to be quiet. Teaching the kids to do this will require repeated (& patient) efforts

Note: increased efforts may be required for a particular child or two;)

self-compassion for homeschool mama as a homeschool hygge practice

11. Incorporate self-compassion practices for yourself!

Hygge can promote healthier, cozier relationships.

What do I actually do to change the tide within my mind?

I practice two self-compassion strategies.

1. I relearn how to speak to myself.

Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves.

But if you think it would have been challenging to turn around the Titanic before it hit that infamous iceberg, well…. it will be just as challenging to turn around the Titanic in your mind.

But it can be done, with a whole lotta preplanning & effort.

(And no naivete that throwing a giant touring ship into the sea will be an easy task, much like your mind: that boat has been all decked out with everything it needs to think since the beginning of your life, and you’ve been practicing every day since you started on this blue and green planet. This won’t be an easy task to turn that Titanic mind around.)

Nope, it will not.

But with a whole lot of intention and practice, you can turn things around.

2. Practice mindful moments.

It’s remarkable how easily we can ignore how we’re feeling or how we’re thinking.

We’re homeschool mamas, so we’re kinda busy.

Or we get too “in our head” and don’t realize that we aren’t present.

How do we deal with that?

We practice mindful moments as a base strategy for our self-compassion approach.

It looks like this…

  • sitting,
  • relaxing our shoulders,
  • hands-on lap,
  • feet on the floor,
  • taking a deep breath for five counts,
  • holding that breath for five counts,
  • exhaling that breath for five counts…

Then asking ourselves…

  1. How do I feel?
  2. What’s going on right now?
  3. What thought have I told myself?
  4. Is that thought true?
  5. What convinced me it is true?
  6. Is there an alternative way to think?

Read more on mindfulness here.

This self-compassion approach helps us become self-aware, know ourselves, and understand why we tick, what we value, and what our triggers compel us to feel, think, and do.

I share a few more things I do to practice self-compassion.

I offer homeschool support for parents, so they can homeschool authentically, confidently, and purposefully.
Do you need support? You can be supported beyond your direct homeschool challenges too.

(Although I love chatting deschool, and clarifying your homeschool vision & intentions too, there are other things we might need someone to walk alongside us.)

Stuff happens in life: like heartbreak, heartache, fatigue, post-partum depression, a significant move, a new baby, or even seasonal affective disorder.
  • Sometimes we just need someone to bounce off an idea or plan for a new venture.
  • Sometimes we need to get a little clarity about our intentions in a relationship dynamic.
  • Or sometimes we need to get clarity in discovering who we are, why we’re here, and the next step in this season of our lives.
  • And most of the time, we need someone to help us clarify our big emotions and triggers for our homeschooled kids.

That’s why I’m here: I offer life coaching for the homeschool mama.

So if you’re curious, join me in a free coaching consultation so we can establish if we have a rapport and clarify your present challenge.

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